Thoughts on Interaction Design

Jon Kolko

Published by

Morgan Kaufmann




Reviewed by

Nick de Voil MBCS


9 out of 10

Thoughts on Interaction DesignThe work of practitioners in the interdisciplinary field of interaction design is increasingly influential for individuals and organisations in today’s world. But what exactly is interaction design, and what is it for?

That is the elusive question which this book addresses. It does so with wit, subtlety and, above all, an appreciation of all the other disciplines with which interaction design must build theoretical and practical bridges. It is an important book, written by one of the foremost thinkers on the subject.

A single glance at the book tells the reader two things: firstly, that it is a collection of reflections, rather than a cohesive monograph, and secondly, that it is self-consciously a designed artefact in itself. First impressions are confirmed on a full reading.

This is not a textbook, methodology manual or style guide. It is a nuanced and thoughtful discourse on the state of the art in interaction design and its relationship not only with product development strategy, but also with society in the broadest sense.

As a physical object, the book is indeed an example of ‘designer-centred design’ to the extent that many of the illustrations feature the author’s own body piercings, tattoos and facial hair. Designerly clichés include the short-and-wide format and the insistence on a small sans-serif font.

Kolko’s writing style is unashamedly post-modern, as befits the subject matter. The tone is arch, self-reflexive and ironic, yet idealistic. His choice of word combinations and syntactic structures incessantly breaks the flow of reading, while the reader wonders, ‘Why did he use that preposition?’ or ‘Is that a clever play on words or an inadvertent mis-spelling?’ The structure of the book and the argument it contains is not self-evident. There is no index. This is a book to relax with, not a reference work to be consulted in a hurry.

The book is aimed at designers who want help with understanding and communicating the role and significance of interaction design. It succeeds masterfully and is good value for money. It would be a shame if its overtly designer-oriented aesthetic were to alienate the wider readership it certainly deserves.

Further Information: Morgan Kaufmann

June 2010